"I want to write but I don't know where to begin," my dear friend and I had been talking about writing a book to leave for her children. It was to be her legacy. She'd thought about it for years, but never had the time. Now she has all the time in the world but the words just won't come.
"I sit in front of the computer with a blank screen staring back at me, and I freeze," she complained when I asked her how she is progressing.
Now I know many writers and wanna be writers struggle with this. They get in front of a blank screen or sheet of paper and they freeze. Some say their brain goes numb, others complain about an oppressive tightness in their throat or chest, others say their palms get all sweaty and their fingers turn to ice. Whatever the symptoms, they all report sitting in front of that unforgiving blankness until they can no longer stand it – and they get up with the promise to begin writing another time.
If you're fighting with that demon – call it writer's block, if you will – relax. That's right, I mean just that. Take a couple deep breaths and relax.
Then, visualize your reader.Is it your son or daughter? A dear friend? Picture them across the table from you. You may even want to put a picture of that person in front of you. The key here is to make sure it's a real person that you can imagine yourself having a heart-to-heart conversation with.
Then, simply imagine yourself having that conversation with them. Don't try to be fancy, or worry about sounding "stupid" just tell them your story. Let the words flow just as they would if you were talking to that person. Imagine that person asking you questions. What do they want you to tell them?
It's OK if the first page or two you write is junk – you can delete it later, the point is you need to begin and once you're on your way, the words will start to flow.
Once you learn this simple technique, you can start working on adding sparkle to your writing with very little effort, use the most colorful words that come to you but don't try to impress them. For example, if you're talking about a house, you don't just say house. It's a bungalow, or a Cape Cod, or a Southwestern stucco. Are you talking about your dog? No it's not just a dog, it's a Collie, or a German Shepherd or a black and tan mutt.
Keep your words natural: nouns and verbs are powerful, lots of adjectives and adverbs weaken your message and risk distracting the reader. So, you didn't just walk into the kitchen, you sauntered, or you schlepped or you ambled.
These techniques have helped several people I work with, including my friend who is trying to write her biography, a technical writer and a marketing specialist. They may help you too.